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tv   Women Airforce Service Pilots of WW II  CSPAN  August 16, 2015 7:40pm-8:01pm EDT

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"q&a" antiwar activists on u.s. foreign-policy since 9/11 and the recent negotiations with iran and the war on terrorism. >> who is isis? what do they believe? why are they so violent? i think what is more important what is the u.s. policy regarding isis? why is it not working? can we really going to work against terrorism? are we doing the war wrong? i think those are the questions that in some ways are the most important and will be the most useful. >> tonight at 8 p.m. eastern and -- onc on cease van "q&a c-span "q&a." >> and highlight at the c-span collaboration with our cable and.
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-- partners. visit c-span.org/citiestour. >> it is texas's official state history museum. 2001.n we are charged with telling the story of texas. we had three floors of exhibition space where we feature around 500 original artifacts that tell the story of texas. we also have temporary exhibitions, including fly girls , which is what we are standing in right now and to theaters that show films regularly. ♪ [video clip] >> this is texas. and out of those are stepping girls.
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girls give a new angle to the air force story. women's air force service pilots. victoria: the fly girls exhibition is very important to us, and it is an exhibition we opened on veterans day, and to tell the story of these world war ii female pilots and share that with the public was, we thought, and important texas story, but also an important story that connects texas with the nation. when world war ii broke out in 1938 and 1939, one of the women pilots of america, her name was jacqueline, and she was a business owner and entrepreneur and a fearless pilot, and she approached president franklin roosevelt and first lady eleanor roosevelt with the idea of using
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women to fly american military aircraft, should they be needed. at the time, they were not, but they thought it was a great idea, and then pearl harbor was attacked by japan, so men immediately enlisted and were sent off to the european and pacific fronts of america, and at that time, by 1942, america was experiencing a really severe shortage of pilots over north africa, so thinking back to the proposition of women flying the military aircraft, general arnold was the commanding general of the army air forces, and he took her up on the offer. the women air force pilots was formed. >> i started taking lessons, and this was in piper cubs, and one day, when i had had perhaps nine hours of flying, he told me to pull over on the tarmac when i landed, and he started getting
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out of the airplane, and then he told me it was time for me to take it around by myself, so he closed the door, and i took off. and he said watch me from the ground, and i will let you know whether or not to go around again, so when i came around for the landing, he waved me to take off again. when i took off that time, when i got up to about 500 feet, where i am supposed to level off, when i started to push forward on that stick to level off, it came off in my hand, and i thought he did this on purpose to see if i would make a good pilot, but then i realized i was about to crash, because i did not have any power to go forward, so i grabbed my
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seatbelt off, and i left the throttle wide open. i leaned across the front seat, and with the tips of my fingers, i started pushing forward on the front stick, and it started lowering the nose of the airplane, and i just held on there until i knew i had enough speed that i would not crash, so then i climbed over into the front seat, but i made a fairly smooth landing, so i started taxiing over to where he was, and when i got close enough, he turned around and started walking away, so i finally just stopped and sat there, and he turned around and came back to the airplane and came up to the door of the airplane and looked in the back seat, and i wasn't there, and he said, what in the hell are you doing in the front seat, and i pointed to that stick, which is like a stick
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that he fly the airplane with, and it was on before board, and when he saw that, he said now you know you have the right stuff to be a pilot, and that was before john glenn had the right stuff, and that is how i learned to fly. the day i was 21, i applied for the program and eventually got a letter that said i had been accepted, so i went on a train from florida to sweetwater texas and went into flight training, and we had male instructors, and then we had army air force check pilots, and i was there for seven months. learning to fly military
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aircraft. we started off with a stearman, and then my class was first class to go from stearman directly to at-6's, and we did that to cross-country flying, and then we went to instruments, so i was there for seven months, and once i finished all of the training and past all of the air force, flying inspectors would give us our check, and i graduated, and then my orders sent me to greenville army air base in mississippi. that was a basic school for cadets, and my job was to test airplanes once they had serious crackups, so my job was that of test pilot, but i
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went to an air force base in florida and went through the 26 -- b-26 training, and they kept me there as a b-26 pilot, and what that meant is i would go up with a with a group of four and go up in a pattern, and the planes would fly by with their young flyers, and they would fire color-coded ammunition, and a couple of times, they hit the tail of my airplane, but luckily, god was on my side. i landed safely, but that is what i did.
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we were disbanded in 1944 when they had enough male pilots in to do those jobs. >> these women were coming in and experiencing things they had never experienced before. there were barracks with six women to a bay. living quarters were tight. there were two sinks, two commodes. each had a bed. not very glamorous. the same kind of conditions that men pilots were living in and being trained and, so after 560 hours of ground school and 210 hours of flying, the women graduated. they earned their silver wings, which most have said that is what they wanted. they wanted their wings, but the first class that graduated did not have a standard flying uniform, so the women actually
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had to purchase their own uniform at first, which was a pair of khakis and a white button up blouse, and in the wintertime, they would wear their brown leather bomber jackets, as well, but that is what the first classes wore. that was their unofficial dress uniform. jacqueline: we were sent after he listened to a speech by jacqueline colburn, who was the one who had gotten this group together, she was there along with the other classmates, and then we were sent down to get our flying gear. we got down to the place where we got our flying gear, and the ones that were in the picture, they were all large and larger,
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and they had to roll up the legs in order to be able to wear it with a belt, but that is what we had in line. but then when we graduated by that time, in new york, they had designed us a new uniform, and general arnold, he wanted it in blue, and this was before the air force started wearing blue. at that time, they were wearing green and tan. but our uniforms were blue, and
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they were made by goodman and neiman marcus came over. and they fit us for those uniforms, which is what i am wearing today. victoria: and they also designed the santiago blue uniform, which consisted of the eisenhower jacket, and the women were the first ones to wear that jacket before they became standard issue later on that year, and the women earned their silver wings. they were at 120 basis, and -- bases across the country. during this time, there were servicewomen who were killed, some in training, some later on, when they were stationed at a base around the country. the women, they were in such a desperate need for these women, but they did not have time to militarize them. so these were all civilian
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pilots, and they were not being compensated. they did not have veteran status, so when they died, they had to find a way. they put a gold star in the window. a lot of times classmates and families raised the money to be able to pay for a woman to go home and the women who applied for this program, only 1800 were accepted, and from there, 1102 went on to become air force service pilots. in june 1944, general arnold went to congress, asking for the militarization of these women. at this time, victory was inside.
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air superiority was there, and from what had been a very patriotic and courageous thing being done for their country, coming home from war, giving back, and the men who are at home, flight instructors at home were worried that their draft exempt jobs were going to disappear, and they wanted you to campaign against these women, and they were asking for this militarization, and it was completely different. the attitude across the country was completely different to what it had been just a few years prior. there are all of these accomplishments that he has done.
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-- that has been done. these women flew 60 million miles during their service, and that all of their statistics, all of their numbers were comparable to that of men. they were very similar, up to par, as men. and that was june 1944, and december 7, 1944, the last class graduated in sweetwater, texas, and on december 20, they were disbanded with little thanks, no pay, and they had to pay for their own way home. and they were sealed and stamped classified and so historians had no accuracy records, and ultimately, these women were left out of our textbooks and left out of our knowledge of the book history, so for 33 years, that was the case, and 1976, congress, or i should say the
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air force said that they were going to allow for the first time in america's history, they were going to allow women to fly military aircraft, which was not true. for 30 years prior, you had women who were doing that all along, and so they decided that is not true. we did it, and this is our time to be acknowledged and for people to recognize that, so a campaign was launched, led by senator barry goldwater, with margaret heckler and bruce arnold, and with their help, they were finally granted veteran status in 1977, 33 years after they had been disbanded, and in 2010, there were four congresswomen, and they were given the
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congressional gold metal of honor, the highest honor a civilian can be bestowed by congress. >> madam speaker, my wasp colleagues, distinguished guests, our families, and our friends. i am humbled to have been asked to represent today. every single one of these ladies deserves to be standing where i am standing.
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[applause] jenny: it was the largest body of people ever in the u.s. emancipation hall at the capital. presently, 200 were able to attend the ceremony and walked -- a wasp deanie parrish accepted it. she accepted on behalf of all of them, and the original metal was given to the smithsonian institution as was directed by the bill that president barack obama had signed. this story is one that even though they were granted veteran status and got this honor, it is really a story that a lot of people are not familiar with.
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they did not ask for this credit. they came to serve their country, and they came together and released men to fly overseas during world war ii to help america win this war, and when it was done, they packed up their bags, they paid their own way home, and they left it at that. these women really change the face of america's military at a time when their country needed them, and that is the story that we are currently here telling at the history museum. >> throughout the weekend, american history tv featuring highlights from c-span's cities tour week on the road to learn >> you are watching american history tv.
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